Laguna Beach rug merchant faces new sex charges
A rug dealer was accused Friday of sexual misconduct with three additional women who Orange County prosecutors say came forward because of media coverage of earlier allegations that he repeatedly assaulted women in the back room of his Laguna Beach showroom.
The new charges of sexual battery and indecent exposure bring to 11 the number of women who allege they were assaulted or molested by Saeid Boustanabadi Maralan, 53, of Laguna Niguel. Maralan is a registered sex offender who had several earlier sexual assault convictions in Los Angeles County.
The case has stirred anger in the community because more than a year lapsed between the first police reports in Laguna Beach and Maralan's arrest in September.
Maralan's defense attorney, Craig Osajima, said he would have no comment at this time.
The new allegations date to 2007 and involve three unrelated women, ages 47 to 61, who say Maralan accosted them at his store. One of the women said he locked her up, exposed himself and tried to force her to fondle his genitals.
Farrah Emami, a spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney's office, said the women were too embarrassed or ashamed to report his conduct at the time. "But when they saw the other victims, they felt compelled to come forward and say what happened to them," she said.
After a first set of charges was filed, Maralan posted $1-million bail and was released from jail, Emami said. The judge upped his bail to $1.5 million when he was charged with assaulting a second set of women, and he remains in custody, she added.
With the new charges, Maralan faces a maximum sentence of 60 years to life in state prison if convicted, prosecutors said.
-- Gale Holland
Photo: Saeid Boustanabadi Maralan. Credit: Laguna Beach Police Department